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Playground triumph & tragedy - P.S. 124 dedicates new space to children lost in traffic accidents

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A Park Slope school is paying tribute to three young children who tragically lost their lives.

P.S. 124, located at 515 Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, officially opened its new state-of-the-art playground and dedicated the space to three late children who attended the school – Juan Angel Estrada, Victor Flores and Vivian Calixto.

In 2004, Estrada and Flores, then 10 and 11 years old, were struck and killed by a 14-wheel truck while walking across Third Avenue near Ninth Street.

The year prior, Calixto was killed in a car accident in Mexico shortly after graduating from P.S. 124.

“This school has had more than its share of tragedy,” said City Councilmember Bill de Blasio, who secured funding to build the new playground.

“We want to remember these children in positive ways and we thought that this would be a wonderful way to memorialize them in our school for the happy times they’ve had here,” explained P.S. 124 Principal Annabell Martinez.

In the playground is a bronze plaque placed “in loving memory” of the three children.

Following an emotional ribbon-cutting ceremony, P.S. 124’s students tested out the new equipment.

“It was a very touching moment, very somber at the very beginning but very happy,” Martinez said.

The school’s students waited several months to enjoy the playground’s slides, poles and steps.

“The playground was actually finished on the first day of school in September but we weren’t able to use it because we were having roof work done,” Martinez explained. “It was very difficult to see the equipment and not be able to get on it and play but for safety reasons we had to keep it closed until the scaffolding came down.”

The playground equipment is designed for pre-K, kindergarten and first grade students but there’s a small backboard and hoop so P.S. 124’s older students can play basketball.

“The main purpose of this yard was to have a place where our youngest children can stretch their bodies and use their imagination,” Martinez said. “This helps us out tremendously because in addition to them having a physical education curriculum, their teachers can take them out.”

Children who reside in the community but don’t attend P.S. 124 can take advantage of the new playground.

“It is primarily for the school but because the schoolyard is open until five or six o’clock, anyone is welcome to come and play on the equipment until we close the school down for the day,” Martinez said.

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